I’m not a writer. So why am I doing a 30 day writing challenge?

I’m not a writer. So why am I doing a 30 day writing challenge?

“Everyone has a book in them…” 

Great. Let’s do this!

“…but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

Oh.

I’m not even entirely sure that I want to write a book. Definitely not fiction. I use up enough time and energy managing my own life without creating and guiding multiple characters through theirs.

But I read so much and learn so much. I enjoy sharing that with my coaching clients so I’d love to be able to capture and share it further with anyone it might help. Life lessons with meaningful anecdotes from my own life. Maybe that’s it. But not just yet. 

In the meantime, I have a course to write, an eBook to finish and a blog that I should be posting on more regularly


Why do it?

We’ve already established that I’m not a writer and I’m not even sure that I want to be. So why put myself through this?

Find my writing style

I worked in Human Resources for 20 years. Everything I wrote was ‘professional’, often legal, in strategy and report formats to global boards and directors. Dry.

Writing that way is all I know. So when I try to write now, I immediately disappear back up my own corporate backside. I bore myself! 

Although I did once rebrand an employee handbook with a new tone of voice by recording content exactly as I would speak. So do I have to ‘be more me’?

The advice on finding your tone of voice is to write like you’re talking to your best friend. I can tell you now, she would NOT enjoy being bombarded with my musings and doubts for 30 days. But maybe I can secretly write to her and never share. 


I love reading 

Imagine if someone, anyone, might enjoy reading something I’ve written. I know that’s going to take more than a month, but I have to start somewhere. And why not try. Have no regrets.


Learning and improving

Now that I’ve decided to do this, I’ve been reading tips from other writers. I’m enjoying that. I’d like to put tips immediately into practice and that means writing every day.

And on my quest to learn and improve, maybe this will help. But what’s an expository style? Be original. Efficient syntax? Oh heck. Maybe I should study all these tips today and start again tomorrow…. *see procrastination

 

Earn money

I’ve got to be honest here. My work depends on it. I’m self employed, always on the lookout for new clients and I need to be active and visible online. No matter what platform or format that takes, I’ll need written content.  

 

Why not?

Oh, this part is easy! I have lots of reasons not to write. That’s why I’ve shared so little on my website so far. And why I procrastinate like feck.


Writing should be fun

It’s not. 


I am the Queen of Procrastination

I only enjoy writing when I should be doing something else. When I should be writing, I can find about a million other things to do instead.


Write about something you love

Lots of experts recommend that you write about something you love. I worry that if I force myself to write about something I love, I’ll very quickly lose the love. 


It’s not starting, it’s finishing

Au contraire. I’m great with a blank page! Give me a blank page and I’ll fill it with ideas and ask for another page. But once I’ve done that brain-dump, I find it almost impossible to put those scattered thoughts into order. In fact, I struggle to go back and look at it again, nevermind start reworking it. So writing takes me FOREVER.  


Too many ideas

Can’t think of anything to write about? Not me! I’ve so many ideas I can’t choose. And when I do make a choice, I’ll change my mind halfway through writing then decide to start another topic and finish the first another day. I’ve lost count of how many blog posts I’ve started and abandoned. Maybe the challenge could be to finish 30 of those started-but-abandoned-posts?


Confidence

Of course, what I mean here is lack of confidence. Enough said.


Visibility

This is my biggest challenge. I’m very private. I don’t like social media. I worry what other people will think. And I’m sensitive to criticism. But all of that has held me back for over 3 years now. That’s how long I haven’t actively promoted and shared my business. Time to put on my big girl pants and do it!

 

 

How?

Now that I’ve publicly committed to this, how do I make it happen?

 

Be organised

I’ll have a set time to write each day. First thing in the morning. With a nice coffee. Just don’t want it to ruin a good cup of coffee. And it’s already 11:43am today. Need to get more organised.


Habit is better than discipline

Habit is something you do daily without thinking. You just do it. Or build it into each day until you eventually get to the point where it’s a habit. That’s going to need a whole lot of discipline for me.


Write for yourself

Nope. That one isn’t working for me. I have a laptop full to bursting with half-written posts. I need the commitment and accountability of writing for other people. Even if that’s just the public accountability of committing to do this.


Take baby steps

Hhhmmmm… I’m not sure a 30 day public challenge ticks this box. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. That might be a better approach.


Just
do it

This is my year of growth. Maybe I will learn to love the page rather than fear it. 

I’ll be brave enough to start badly and publicly improve my writing. I can share my learnings. Share my failures. Share how life has knocked me down and I picked myself back up again.

So this is my month of doing something badly. Bravely.

Tune in tomorrow for more. Or maybe the next day…

 

I won’t share every daily post here but check out my Medium Stories if you’d like to see how I do in the challenge.

In the post I mentioned that I’m creating courses. Check out Burnout to Balance, it’s launching very soon!

*Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

My Burnout Reading list

My Burnout Reading list

I’ve been on quite a journey of transformation myself over the last three years. These are the books that helped me learn, grow, let things go and turn my life around. Some were new reads and others are books I’ve read over time and time again or dip into when I need a reminder or a burst of inspiration.

* Please note: this page contains affiliate links which could earn me a small commission but doesn’t cost you any extra. And of course, I will never recommend anything to you that I haven’t tried and liked. Promise. For more details see my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

Self-help & Personal Development

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

Lifeshocks: and how to love them, Sophie Sabbage

Tuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson, Mitch Albom

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Rising Strong, Brené Brown

The Rules Of Life: A personal code for living a better, happier, more successful kind of life, Richard Templar 

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, Shel Silverstein

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Sarah Knight

Spirituality

The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle

The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

The Secret, Rhonda Byrne

The Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What, Gabrielle Bernstein

Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Daily Meditations For Practicing The Course, Karen Casey

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise L. Hay

Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, Bill Plotkin

Embracing Our Selves: The Voice Dialogue Manual, Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra L. Stone, Ph.D.

Psychology

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, Joe Dispenza, D.C.

Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust, Viktor E. Frankl

Sane New World: Taming the Mind, Ruby Wax

The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, M.D.

Personal Effectiveness

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek

Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done Today, Brian Tracy

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

Manage Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide, Gillian Butler and Tony Hope

Philosophy

Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting The Power Of The Wild Woman, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, Gabor Maté

Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.

Yoga

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Saraswati Satyananda Swami

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, William J. Broad

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: An Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners, H. David Coulter

Bhagavad Gita – Text and Commentary, Sivananda Swami

8 Proven Ways Walking Improves Your Brain

8 Proven Ways Walking Improves Your Brain

It might surprise you to hear that something as simple as walking can actually improve your brainpower.

It doesn’t even have to be full-on power walking! Even a twenty or thirty minute walk during your lunch break can have a positive impact on your brain.

Here are eight ways science has proven that walking is excellent for your brain: 

1. Walking helps lower your risk of depression
Walking is an excellent way to improve your mental health. A 2018 study showed that any kind of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking can boost your brain health and lower your risk of developing depression by a third.

2. Walking improves your cognitive function
A number of studies have shown that the magic amount of twenty to thirty minutes of daily aerobic exercise, such as walking, improves cognitive function and memory.

3. Walking stimulates endorphins  
Just ten minutes of walking is enough to start your brain releasing endorphins, the brain chemicals that lower stress, boost your mental health, and make you feel good. You’ve heard of the runner’s high? Well, you can get a similar positive rush from a brisk walk!

4. Walking releases the brain’s Magic Protein    
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been dubbed the brain’s ‘magic protein’ as it helps to rewire and build new neural pathways. Scientists believe it can even help lower your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. And cardiovascular exercise is an easy way to stimulate the production of BDNF and keep your brain in peak condition.

5. Walking lowers physical and mental fatigue
A 2008 study by the University of Georgia found that just three sessions a week of a low-intensity exercise like walking can reduce fatigue levels by as much as 65 percent.

6. Walking builds hippocampus strength
Your hippocampus is the key part of the brain for forming and storing memories. Research has shown that even brief walks can actually increase the size and efficiency of your hippocampus.

7. Walking Improves Creativity
Artists, writers, and philosophers have long known the importance of walking for clearing blocked creativity and getting inspiration flowing again. Science can now back this up with a 2014 study by Stanford University showing that walking increases your creative output by up to sixty percent.

8. Walking increases blood flow to the brain
Blood is vital for every organ in your body, not least of all, your brain. That magic twenty minutes is all it takes to increase the blood flow to your brain to keep it active and healthy.

What do you think? Not bad for 20 minutes exercise!

I’ve long been a fan of walking and hiking and that’s before I realised it had just so many key benefits. Not to mention the added grounding and healing benefits of walking in nature. 

Right, I’m off for a walk…

 

Rising Ritual: The Importance of a Spiritual Morning Routine

Rising Ritual: The Importance of a Spiritual Morning Routine

Good morning sunshine! 🌞

 

Whatever we do first thing in the morning sets the tone for our entire day. So it’s important to start off in a positive way.

Not only that but establishing good morning habits means you’re more likely to make healthy choices throughout the day.

Win the morning, win the day,” Tim Ferris

If having a morning routine is an essential for the most successful 1% of people in the planet then why not give it a try?

Imagine this. You get up in the morning knowing that you’re going to step straight into your morning routine. That means you don’t need to make a single decision first thing. Not only does that help ease you into the day, but you can save that brain power for when you need it later in the day.

Each day we only have a certain amount of willpower. That willpower is strongest when we waken and lessens as the day goes on. Ah… so that’s why I’m more inclined to demolish the family size chocolate bar at night-time. It’s because my willpower reserves are depleted! 🍫😋

When I follow my full routine, it takes less than an hour. Under an hour and I feel more grounded, focused, centred and it clears my mind for the day ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always do all of it. But I always do some of it. When I first waken, I list three things I’m grateful for before I get out of bed. Even if one of those is just being thankful for my warm, comfy bed.

The most important thing is that you choose to introduce what will suit you. That way you’re more likely to stick to practice long term and reap the benefits. So here are some of the options you might choose from to start your day as you mean to continue.

 

 Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash


Rising Ritual Daily Practice Options

🙏🏼 Silence

Silence allows your body to wake up slowly and naturally, easing you into the day. It helps you to centre emotionally and brings you a sense of calm. You don’t have to sit and do absolutely nothing while you’re silent. Sometimes my silent time is my walking time. I try to avoid thinking about the day ahead while I’m walking each morning. In fact, I try to avoid thinking too much at all. I allow myself to be fully present and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Sometimes I’ll have my moments of silence back on the balcony with my coffee.

🙏🏼Meditation

Meditation helps focus, concentration, mental health.

Sitting in meditation has never been very achievable or enjoyable for me. I’m a chronic overthinker, my mind is always racing. I spend most of the time wondering when it will be over or making lists and plans for the day ahead!

For me, daily pranayama (breathing exercises) and yoga practice are my best forms of meditation. And walking meditation is the best! I practice being fully present on my morning walks.

🙏🏼Gratitude

Gratitude and appreciation is the key to happiness.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — because we will always want to have something else or something more. ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

Many people are on a lifelong search for happiness.

When I get this, have that, reach that destination or key moment in my life, I will be happy. But when you get there, you will start searching for the next thing. I believe that happiness is now, that there is happiness to be found in small moments. Gratitude is a choice to start the day with a positive mindset and recognition of the good things that are already in our lives. Practicing gratitude helps you replace negative thoughts with good thoughts and stops you living in a place of ‘lack’ and move into a zone of abundance.

Gratitude is a choice. We can choose to be grateful or we can allow ourselves to be ungrateful. It’s choosing to recognise the value that’s already in your life.

🙏🏼Affirmations

Positive affirmations are statements that help you overcome or steer away from negative thoughts. Positive Psychology explains the psychological theory and neuroscience behind this powerful practice. 🙏🏼Visualisation Visualisation is a technique to manifest your goals and desired outcomes.

If it’s a new concept to you, I know it sounds wacky but it’s widely practiced by super successful people. Jack Canfield explains it brilliantly here.

🙏🏼Intentions

Take a moment to set an intention for the day ahead. Intentions can be whatever you want them to be. Think of them as a roadmap for your day. Try to focus on the positive and make it uplifting. For example, if you’ve been feeling stressed, rather than setting an intention of “I will overcome this stress today”, instead use “Today I will find peace and calm”. Using the negative word will have the opposite of the desired effect, reminding you throughout the day that you’re stressed. Once you’re practiced at this, it’s good to stop at several points during the day to remind yourself of the daily intention.

🙏🏼Pranayama

Pranayama is a yoga practice of focussing on your breath, essentially some breathing exercises. The goal is to connect your body and mind, boosting physical and mental wellness.

I light a scented candle or burn oils and warm a few drops of essential oils in my palms to inhale while breathing. Gorgeous start to the day.

🙏🏼Reading

Spiritual reading was recommended to me by my ayurvedic therapist as part of my daily practice.

Reading just a page or a chapter each day helps me pick up a ‘thought for the day’, giving me something new to consider and lots to learn. Sometimes I open a book randomly and see where it opens, believing it will guide me to what I need to know that day.

🙏🏼Journaling

My journaling encompasses almost all of these practices. It’s a daily checklist that guides me through each step.

I also practice free writing, letting the pen flow wherever it takes me. If something is troubling me, I write through it. If good things are happening, I like to capture those too.

Journaling helps clear my mind, organise my thoughts, capture ideas, reflect, make decisions, prioritise, plan and gain new perspectives.

🙏🏼Yoga

Yoga gently wakens up your body and muscles. It’s good to relax your mind and nervous system, prepare your body for digestion and gently rouse your circulation immune system for the day ahead.

🙏🏼A walk in nature

If I only did one thing each day this would be it. I can have my silence, be grateful for everything around me and be inspired by nature. It’s good exercise, great to breathe fresh air and I find nature grounding.

🙏🏼Keeping it a tech free / email free zone until a certain time

We spend so much time on our screens. As soon as you check the news, or messages or emails, your mind is racing into the day ahead. Give yourself some time before entering the busyness of the day. It’s good to have a set cut-off time to switch these off at night too.

🙏🏼Mindful coffee / tea / juice / smoothie / lemon water

Sometimes this is when I sit in silence. Sometimes I have a coffee when I journal. But I do it mindfully. Taste it. Smell it. Be present. I literally do wake up and smell the coffee ☕

🐶 Cuddles with the dog

Or is that just me?

 

MY DAILY PRACTICE ESSENTIALS


Journal 

I always journal in a LEUCHTTURM1917 and I’ve been using these notebooks for years. 

I like the size and it has a hard cover which helps it keep its shape. I carry my journal everywhere and the cover stops the corners of the pages getting dogeared and battered while the notebook is being bounced around in my  handbag. It has an elastic fastener, numbered pages and a blank table of contents to help you organise whatever way you like.

These LEUCHTTURM1917 come in every colour under the sun, many different sizes and with plain, ruled, dotted or squared pages. They also have a great range of planners.

I tend to switch between this fancy Metallic Edition Medium (A5) in Silver and I’ve just bought my third A5 Lemon Dotted journal. They may call it lemon but it’s a vibrant yellow which always makes me smile and is never hard to find!

I personally never use journals with ruled pages as my writing is enormous and I find that plain pages allow me to creatively use the pages however I want. Planning, writing, journaling, mind mapping, lists….


Pens

I’ve got very distinctive handwriting, which is impossible for anyone but me to read – maybe a good way to keep my musings private if anyone finds my journal.

I’m hooked on these Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens. I’ve been using them for years, always stock up on a pack of 12 and keep them stashed everywhere!

 

Candles

For me, it’s really important to create the right environment for my Daily Practice of yoga, pranayama (breathing) and journaling.

Before I start, I always light a few tealights and a scented candle.

My absolute favourites are these St Eval Tin Candles. They have a wonderful, lasting fragrance but aren’t overpowering. They have some quirky fragrance combinations and come in tealightspillar candles and diffusers. The diffusers are great, they really seem to last forever.

I love so many of their scents, but if pushed for my Top 3, they would be (in no particular order) SandalwoodTranquility and Sensuality.

I first got one of these candles as a gift.

A gift to the senses! Beautiful fragrance, I light it morning, noon and night. Perfect for inspiring my journaling.

LSW Mind Cards: Positive Actions for Happiness & Fulfilment

LSW Mind Cards: Positive Actions for Happiness & Fulfilment

*This post may contain affiliate links which could earn me a small commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I trust. All opinions are my own. For more details see my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

LSW Mind Cards might just be my new favourite thing.

They’re beautifully designed cards created to help you to become more mindful of your thoughts and feelings, take back control of your happiness, focus on the present and spread positivity throughout your life.

You get 45 gorgeous individually designed cards presented in a beautiful box.

The cards cover 5 inspiring, thought provoking categories:

* Kindness
* Ritual
* Gratitude
* Journal
* Reflection

I’ve written about all of these categories before, raving about the benefits of developing a daily practice incorporating all these elements. These beautiful, inspiring LSW Mind Cards give you the tools to guide you through that practice.

Each day, you select one of the LSW Mind Cards at random and take the action stated on the card. Building the habit of making positive choices each day will help you lead a more fulfilling and happier life.

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